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Our Flexible Learning Environments


Our Philosophy for FLE: 

Teaching and Learning at Whakarongo School is grounded in the development of Whakarongo as an Inquiring School, and the development of the Whakarongo Kid.  We see our school as developing a Learning Community based on a shared vision: A community where collaboration is used to facilitate constant improvement and to unlock our real potential.  

We want our students to:
  • be excited by their learning, 
  • be empowered learners, with their talents developed, 
  • and motivated to become lifelong learners.

Our flexible learning environments (FLE) enable us to create a community for learning where collaboration is used to facilitate constant improvement and to unlock our student's full potential. 


Through our FLEs, we focus on:


  1. Developing the culture of collaboration;

  2. The development of student competencies as Innovators, Navigators, Connectors and Collaborators;

  3. Developing Confident, Connected, actively involved and Lifelong Learners;

  4. Constructivism as a philosophical base, because true learning occurs when learners create their own learning rather than having knowledge transmitted to them by some source.

  5. Values student input and opinion;

  6. Strive to provide authentic contexts, and

  7. Has Inquiring teachers.


FLE’s provide the environment for the natural development of core skills like self-management, student efficacy, collaboration, responsibility and communication.  A FLE is centred around a “homeroom” where some of the teaching and learning occurs, and that provides access to a number of other spaces.  This learning environment offer students and teachers flexibility, choice and access.  Teachers are provided with open and flexible environments where they can work and plan collaboratively, share observations and reflection and  and develop a collaborative, continuously improving team.  


Our Aims:

Wānanga

  • Student (and whānau) voice is valued and actively sought, and their voice helps inform learning.

Whanaungatanga

  • Each pod forms a collaborative community of learners: students, teachers, whānau, the wider community.

  • Collaboration between all learners, where we are all learners, working with and beside each other

Tangata Whenuatanga

  • Learning is is purposeful, relevant and authentic, reflecting what is important to ākonga, their sense of belonging and their world.

  • Learning is explored through a variety of relevant contexts.

  • Teachers value the prior knowledge that learners bring.

Manaakitanga

  • Learners feel valued and cared for by all teachers

(collective responsibility for pastoral care and development of relationships).

  • Learning is responsive and personalised.

Ako

  • Ākonga and kaiako can articulate and action their learning: what, how, why and next steps for learning.

  • Ākonga are empowered to develop themselves as effective learners (see effective learning progressions), becoming more agentic.

  • Learning is reciprocal: both learners and teachers teach, coach and learn from each other.

  • Learning is ongoing: where all learners truly inquire into their understandings with the aim to continue to improve and grow.

  • Learning is planned for creatively and flexibly: maximising learning time, catering to all needs of the learners, and engaging learners through a variety of effective pedagogies, tools, and resources.




What FLEs look like at WS:

At Whakarongo School we have a commitment to effective pedagogy.  We believe that Flexible Learning Environments support a range of effective teaching pedagogies and provide the environment for the natural development of lifelong skills such as self-management, student efficacy, collaboration, responsibility and communication, as well as core skills of literacy and mathematics.  

Our FLE's, alongside our Whakarongo Kid effective learner progressions, help our learners understand their learning and their next steps to help them be the best learner they can be.  
Our FLEs are referred to as pods, which consist of three homerooms.   These learning environments offer students and teachers flexibility, choice and access as well as for students to have a voice and sense of direction in their learning. 

Our pods are named for our different school values in Te Reo Māori, promoting a respect for Te Aō Māori as well as values essential for the future.

These pods also support the Māori concepts of:
  • Ako: a dynamic form of learning where the educator and the student learn from each other in an interactive way
  • Pono: where students and teachers have a strong sense of self belief, with a clear purpose
  • Atawhai: a whānau approach where everybody is part of the “family” and feel safe
  • Tipu: where learners have pathways to discover and develop their own strengths. 
Inherent in this, in our pods, is collaborative teacher practice.  In our pods, our teachers work collaboratively to ensure they best meet the needs of the learners:
  • Our teachers identify and use each other’s strengths.
  • Teachers are constantly communicating; providing feedback and feedforward to each other about directions for learning, next steps, student progress and behaviour. This promotes an environment that is more responsive to and reflective of students’ needs.
  • Teachers as the learning coach: this role, especially in literacy and mathematics, enables more targeted support, the opportunity to challenge and extend learners as they work independently.  The learning coach also provides immediate feedback and next steps for both students and fellow pod teachers while also tracking our students' learning progress. Students always have the learning coach to go to at any time during the day, which is significantly different to what teachers can provide in a single classroom.  The learning coach also helps keep students on track and ensures that no student goes un-noticed.
  • Assessment is collaborative and reflects the observations of all teachers in the pod, giving a fuller picture of what our students can do and their next steps.
  • Teachers collaboratively plan for a wide range of learning experiences, drawing on strengths and knowledge as well as teacher observations in a responsive manner, meaning they are able to reflect on learning daily, and plan for next steps as they are identified.
This means our teachers use time creatively and flexibly: targeting individuals, small groups and larger groups with greater flexibility; providing for a greater variety of learning needs and focuses, in a variety of ways, contexts and with different resources and spaces, and this all supports greater student engagement, understanding and direction in learning. 


This is critical in promoting personalised learning and greater learner agency for our students, which we feel is essential to ensuring our learners’ are prepared for the future. We want our students to:
  • understand how they learn
  • own and drive their learning
  • are co-designers of the curriculum and their learning environment

To support this, our pods:
  • Have clear pathways for learning so they can identify where they are at and work towards their next steps more autonomously. 
  • Targeted workshops, where teachers and students lead learning that reflects the student's next steps for learning.  As students move through the school they identify their steps and opt into the workshop that best meets their learning.
  • Actively seek our student's voice.  We recognise that if we want learning to be engaging and motivating for our learners, and if we want them to take responsibility for their learning, then our students need to have input into what they think is important, what they're interested in, what works or doesn't work for them. 
  • Provide a range of choices, reflecting different learning styles and interests as well as learning focuses.  
  • Are developing the concept of ako where teachers and students sit alongside each other - learning together; students work collaboratively,  and learning from each other.

These aspects help our students be more reflective and inquiring learners; and ultimately our students are show more motivation, engagement and self-management of their learning.
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